What Lisa Watched Last Night #201: Mommy’s Little Princes (dir by Curtis Crawford)


Last night, as soon as I got home from work, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched Mommy’s Little Princess!

Why Was I Watching It?

Why not?

No, actually, I did have a very specific reason for watching it.  Mommy’s Little Princess was a film that I watched earlier this year but, for whatever reason, I didn’t review it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record it either.  So, by watching it yesterday, I was able to reacquaint myself with the film before reviewing it.

Because that’s what ethical reviewers do!

What Was It About?

12 year-old Lizzy (Sarah Abbott) is haunted by the memories of her abusive mother and a fear that she’s not that special.  In order to make Lizzy feel a bit better about herself, her adoptive mother, Julianna (Alicia Leigh Willis), decides to send away for a DNA testing kit!

When the results are returned, Lizzy discovers that she’s a little bit French, a little bit English, and a whole lot German!  In fact, she’s even descended from German nobility!  Soon, Lizzy is walking around and telling everyone that she’s a princess.  She covers an entire wall of her bedroom with pictures of European nobility and tells everyone that it’s a collage of her real family.

Unfortunately, not everyone is impressed with Lizzy’s heritage.  Some of them even go so far as to suggest that being distantly related to royalty is no big deal.  Those people, Lizzy kills.

What Worked?

I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed the irony of Lifetime broadcasting a movie about someone being driven crazy as a result of obsessing on royalty when Lifetime is also the same network that has, so far, done one movie about William and Kate and two movies about Harry and Meghan!  It was kind of fun, like Lifetime was saying, “Don’t spend too much time living in a fantasy and, by the way, stick around for the next royal wedding movie….” Mommy’s Little Princess felt wonderfully subversive.

Sarah Abbott did a really good job as poor, psychotic little Lizzy.  You feared her but, at the same time, you felt sorry for her.  As a flashback to her time with her birth mother showed, Lizzy really never had a chance.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  This was a fun little Lifetime melodrama and it had just the right amount of self-awareness.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As far as DNA goes, I’m primarily Irish, Italian, and Spanish.  As far as I know, I’m not related to royalty.  If I was related to royalty and in line for the throne of some country, I would totally hold it over everyone’s head.  Seriously, I would find a way to sneak it into every conversation.  “You’re going to the store?  Hey, could you pick me up some a tiara or something because, after all, I am royalty and I could have you executed.”  My friends would probably get tired of hearing about it.

So, all in all, I guess it’s good that I’m not yet a part of the royal family.

Lessons Learned

DNA tests only lead to pain and misery.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #200: The College Admissions Scandal (dir by Adam Salky)


Last night, like all good Americans, I watched The College Admissions Scandal on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

How could I not watch it!?

Seriously, Lifetime has been advertising the Hell out of this thing for the past few months.  I haven’t been able to turn on the channel without seeing a few hundred commercials for The College Admissions Scandal.

Add to that, I have to admit that this is the rare national scandal that I’ve actually been following.  When the news first broke that certain rich people had cheated and broken the rules to get their child into a good college, my initial reaction was, “Well, isn’t that what a parent’s supposed to do?”  Of course, I made the mistake of saying that on twitter and I immediately ended up with a bunch of finger-wagging nags screaming at me about how it wasn’t something to make a joke about and how it wasn’t fair and blah blah blah.  They sure told me!  Of course, it didn’t really change my mind or anything but at least everyone else got to feel like they had stuck up for truth and justice.  That said, I think my point remains valid.  Don’t get mad at the parents for taking advantage of the system.  They’re just trying to look after their kids.  Instead, get mad at the colleges that were willing to be bribed.  Get mad at a system that’s been specifically set up to be corrupted.  The solution is reform, not necessarily imprisonment.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I kinda love the fact that, while Felicity Huffman basically begged everyone to forgive her, Lori Loughlin pretty much said, “Fuck you, I’m not apologizing for anything.” That’s the spirit!

What Was It About?

Penelope Ann Miller plays a character who is definitely not Felicity Huffman, just as Mia Kirshner is playing someone who is definitely not Lori Loughlin.  That said, like Miller and Loughlin, they’re two wealthy mothers who are concerned about getting their children into the right school.  Fortunately, Rick Singer (Michael Shanks) is willing to sell his services as an admissions consultant.  Pay him enough money and he’ll fix your child’s grades, improve their test scores, and even make them look like athletes!

It sounds like a great plan!  Of course, it’s also illegal and, even as the parents are looking forward to sending their kids to Stanford and Harvard, the FBI is looking forward to sending the parents to prison!

What Worked?

Miller and Kirshner were both well-cast and Kirshner was especially good as the mother who definitely was not Lori Loughlin.  Michael Shanks was also wonderfully repellent in the role of Rick Singer.

It was fascinating to watch the lengths that Singer and the families went to remaking their children.  My main memory of this film will probably always be Sarah Dugdale standing in front of a blue screen and kicking a soccer ball so that she can later be photoshopped into a picture of an actual soccer game.

What Did Not Work?

Where were the real people!?  Yes, Rick Singer is a real person but why were all the parents fictional?  I assume for legal reasons.  For instance, Lori Loughlin has yet to be convicted of anything and I imagine that Lifetime didn’t want to get on the bad side of either Felicity Huffman or William H. Macy by portraying them in the movie.  But seriously, it was hard not to be disappointed by the lack of real world gossip.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Hmmmm …. I got into college legally but then again, I also didn’t go to an Ivy League school, nor did I ever particularly want to.  To be honest, it didn’t really occur to me that college was actually that important until my senior year.  That’s when I was like, “Oh, I’m actually supposed to do something with this art history degree….”

Lessons Learned

If you want to send your child to a good college, get them interested in soccer early.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #199: Deadly Excursion (dir by Brian Skiba)


Last night, while overseeing the first day of horrorthon, I still found the time to turn over the Lifetime Movie Network and watch the 2019 thriller, Deadly Excursion!

Why Was I Watching It?

The film premiered way back in January.  I watched it on Lifetime but, for some reason, I didn’t get a chance to review it.  I may have been busy trying to keep up with all the Oscar news.  Who knows?  So, when I saw that Deadly Excursion would be re-airing on the Lifetime Movie Network last night, I was like, “Yay!  It’s a second chance to do the right thing!”

What Was It About?

Sam (Samire Armstrong) needs a vacation!  Not only is she recently separated from her cheating husband (Corin Nemec) but her daughter, Ellie (Alexandria DeBerry), will soon be leaving home.  Sam and Ellie head down to Florida where, during their first night in paradise, Sam meets the charming Javier (Callard Harris) and Ellie meets Javier’s brother, Ian (Jonathan Bouvier).  Javier invites Sam to spend the day on his boat.  Despite barely knowing him, Sam agrees and decides to bring along her daughter.

Well, as you probably already guessed, Javier is not the nice guy that he pretends to be.  Anyway, one thing leads to another and soon Sam and Ellie are trapped on an island where they have to figure out how to survive while being stalked by international criminals.

What Worked?

Paradise may be deadly but it’s still very nice to look at.  The ocean, the island, the beach, the blue sky, the green trees, this is a film full of pretty views.  This is one of those films that will make you want to take a vacation, though hopefully not a deadly one.

Samaire Armstrong and Alexandria DeBerry was well-cast and convincing as mother-and-daughter while Callard Harris and Jonathan Bouvier were both properly menacing.  Harris especially did a good job of playing up Javier’s sleazy charm.  And, of course, Corin Nemec was his usual likable self.

What Did Not Work?

Obviously, any melodrama is going to require a certain suspension of disbelief but Deadly Excursion occasionally took it a bit too far.  Samaire Armstrong did the best that she could with the character but, at the start of the movie, Sam was often just too naive to be believed.

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

I related to the relationship between Sam and Ellie.  It reminded me of my own relationship with my mom, back when she was newly single and I was a bratty teenager.

The film also reminded me of the trip that my mom, my sisters, and I all took to Hawaii the summer after Erin graduated from high school.  It was a fun trip to paradise but it was also kinda disturbing because there was this obviously sleazy beach bum who totally fell in love with my mom and who just would not stop showing up and trying to convince us all to come party with him at some isolated spot that apparently only he knew about.  Finally, we were all just like, “Dude, it’s not going to happen!”  He looked really depressed at the news but he stopped following us around.  If only Sam had been willing to say the same thing to Javier.

Lessons Learned

Don’t get on a boat with a strange man that you barely know.  Actually, if you needed a movie to teach you that, you should probably be a little bit concerned.  I mean, it’s just common sense, right?  But, still, it’s a good lesson.  Another good lesson is that, if you ever do find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, a good plan is to call Corin Nemec.  He’ll do his best to rescue you.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #198: Psycho Stripper (dir by Jake Helgren)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Psycho Stripper!Why Was I Watching It?

Why was I watching it?  Seriously, with a name like Psycho Stripper, how couldn’t I watch it!?  There’s an art to coming up with a good title and whoever came up with Psycho Stripper has obviously perfected that art.  The title was so great that I even abandoned the neighborhood Cinco De Mayo party early, just so I could watch the movie in the comfort of my own home.  That’s the power of a perfect title!

Also, I have to give some credit to Lifetime, here.  Before they showed Psycho Stripper, they showed Magic Mike.  So, on Sunday night, viewers got a chance to see two separate versions of the life of a male stripper, the yellow-tinted Steven Soderbergh version (seriously, I like Magic Mike but, whenever I watch it, I worry all that yellow is going to burn my retinas) and the wonderfully over-the-top Lifetime version!

What Was It About?

Amber (Karissa Lee Staples) owns her own dance studio, has a lot of friends, and is about to get married to the wealthy (if kinda wimpy) Owen (Mark Hapka).

Hunter (Tyler Johnson) is a handsome and charming male stripper who dresses up like a fireman, can change a flat tire, and who happens to be really good with an ax.

Together, they solve crimes!

No, not really.  Instead, Hunter shows up at Amber’s bachelorette party.  He’s supposed to just be a part of the night’s entertainment but, instead, Hunter keeps showing up wherever Amber happens to be.  First, he just wants dance lessons.  Then, he’s kind of dating Amber’s best friend, Taryn (Rachele Brooke Smith).  Then, he’s bringing Amber a gift to thank her for the lessons.  Suddenly, he’s asking Amber if she wants to get lunch!  Amber doesn’t think that it’s a good idea for her to have lunch with Hunter, especially since Owen seems to have a hang-up about her hanging out with a mysterious man who has a great body.

Then again, Owen has issues of his own.  For instance, he doesn’t seem to have quite gotten over his previous girlfriend, the one who died mysteriously….

What Worked?

Okay, so I absolutely loved this movie.  I mean, how couldn’t I?  It combined two of my favorite things: over-the-top, in-your-face melodrama and dancing!  This movie was a lot of fun and Tyler Johnson really threw himself into playing the role of the psycho stripper.

The film also had a bit of a subversive side, as well.  Hunter may be a psycho but you still kind of find yourself on his side, if just because everyone else in the movie is so judgmental of him and how he makes his living.  Owen’s family is extremely wealthy and all of his friends are extremely privileged.  When they start giving Hunter a hard time about being a stripper (with one of them even throwing a dollar bill at him), you can’t help but feel a little bit bad for him.  (Of course, then he starts killing people and you’re like, “Okay, never mind….”)

My favorite character was Taryn, who was not only a good dancer but also the greatest best friends that one could possibly hope for.  She got all the best lines.  My personal favorite was, “We’re going to get in this car and plow his ass down!”

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked.  This was Lifetime at its best.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

A Lifetime film set in a dance studio?  To be honest, almost the entire film was an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment.  I related to Taryn.  I’d like to think that, if there was a psycho wandering around outside, I too would be smart enough to grab a knife before going outside.

The last Bachelorette Party that I went to had a stripping fireman, just like this movie.  However, I don’t think he ever killed anyone.  Actually, rumor has it that he was a real fireman who had too much to drink that night.  Who knows?  Life is indeed a crazy tapestry.

Lessons Learned

Beware of strippers bearing gifts.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #197: My Daughter’s Ransom (dir by Doug Campbell)


On Thursday, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2019, My Daughter’s Ransom!

(a.k.a. My Daughter’s Ransom)

Why Was I Watching It?

New year, new lifetime movies!  Every year brings changes but one thing that will never change will be my love for these films and the enjoyment I get from reviewing them.

What Was It About?

Rachel (Scottie Thompson) has a good life.  Her husband, Tony (Matthew Pohlkamp), is a successful businessman who is on the verge of finalizing a big deal.  Her daughter, Lindsey (McKinley Blehm), is intelligent enough to know all about the theories of Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Rachel also has an ex-boyfriend named Carter (Lucas Kerr).  Carter’s just been released from prison and, as quickly becomes apparent, his incarceration did not lead to rehabilitation.  After spending months stalking Rachel and her family, Carter kidnaps Lindsey at the zoo.  If Rachel doesn’t do everything that Carter orders her to do, he’ll kill her daughter.

As Rachel tries to figure out a way to save her daughter, she also has to keep following Carter’s orders, which are not only increasingly outlandish but also increasingly dangerous for both Rachel and everyone that she loves….

What Worked?

As anyone who has spent any time watching the channel can tell you, the theme of abduction is a popular one when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That’s because these films deal with the fears that every parent has, not only that your child will be abducted but that you’ll be powerless to rescue them.  My Daughter’s Ransom did a good job of making that fear feel real, especially in the early moments when Rachel was desperately running around the zoo, looking for her daughter.  (The camera holds Rachel in a tight close-up while she searches for her daughter, emphasizing Rachel’s desperation to find her.)

For a film like this to work, you need a good villain and Lucas Kerr did a great job making Carter into the type of creepy, hissable bad guy who you just couldn’t wait to see get his comeuppance.  In the role of Rachel, Scottie Thompson also did great work and it was impossible not to sympathize with her as she tried to get someone to notice that she was in trouble without Carter figuring out what she was doing.

In fact, the entire cast did a great job.  My two favorite supporting characters were Gina (Davida Williams), the wife of Tony’s business partner, and Skates (Erika Fong), Tony’s secretary.  Neither one of them was willing to put up with any nonsense.  Personally, I think we need a sequel where Gina and Skates team up and solve crimes.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  My Daughter’s Ransom got the year off to a good start.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Rachel, I once had a weakness for bad boys.  Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.  That said, the character I most admired was Skates because it didn’t matter how much Carter ordered Rachel to yell at her and threaten to fire her, Skates wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing her job.

Lessons Learned

Bad boys never change.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #196: Killer Vacation (dir by Tamar Halpern)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, Killer Vacation!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was new and it was on the Lifetime Movie Network, of course!

Also, I watched it because the Christmas season has begun, which means that Lifetime is mostly going to be showing holiday movies for the next few weeks.  I absolutely love Christmas movies but, even during the holidays, there are times when you just want to see an over-the-top melodrama about someone trying to go on vacation without dying.  Killer Vacation offered a beak from the relentless holiday cheer so, of course, I was going to watch it while shopping online for Christmas decorations.

What Was It About?

Lindsey (Alexa Havins) is having an affair with her boss, Jake (Jacob Young).  Unfortunately, Jake’s married.  He swears that he’s getting divorced but Lindsey can’t help but notice that he still wears his wedding ring.  When Lindsey learns that she’s pregnant, Jake suggests that they go on a vacation together.  Soon, they’re at a resort in New Mexico and strange things are happening!

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Jake’s wife is wandering around the resort as well?  And what about the passive-aggressive private detective who keeps popping up at the most awkward possible moments?  And then there’s that handsome and overly friendly yoga instructor.  Is he trying to help or does he have ulterior motives?

One thing’s for sure.  This vacation is taking a deadly turn!

What Worked?

Never underestimate just how big a factor wish-fulfillment is when it comes to understanding the appeal of a good Lifetime film.  When a Lifetime film has the word “vacation” in the title, that means that the film is promising you lot of pretty scenery and a nice resort.  On that front, Killer Vacation definitely delivered!  New Mexico looked beautiful and I really liked the hotel where Jake and Lindsey were staying.

(In fact, that hotel reminded me of Paradise Hotel.  Remember that old reality show?  I used to watch marathons of it on the much-missed Fox Reality Channel.  The fact that we only got two seasons of Paradise Hotel is a crime!)

What Did Not Work?

At times, Lindsey seemed almost too dumb to be believed.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  We’ve all been there.  At some point, we’ve all fallen for the wrong guy and ignored all of our friends telling us we were making a mistake and accepted some pretty flimsy excuses for some unforgivable behavior.  So, it’s not that I couldn’t sympathize with Lindsey but seriously, it took Lindsey a really long time to reach the point that most people would reach right away.  Myself, I would buy a plane ticket home as soon as I suspected that my married lover had tried to push me off a cliff.  Maybe that’s just me.

As well, the identity of the murderer was just a bit too obvious.  The film did attempt to introduce some red herrings but it was pretty obvious who the killer was going to turn out to be.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to the scene where Lindsey slipped on a mountain path and nearly fell to her death.  That’s one reason why I rarely go to the desert because I would totally end up being the girl who got distracted and accidentally walked over the edge of a cliff.

Lessons Learned

Never pass up the opportunity to take a free yoga class!  Seriously, your life might depend upon it!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #195: Long Lost Daughter (dir by Christopher James Lang)


On Friday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Long Lost Daughter!

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, let me just say that, considering what the folks on the East Coast have had to deal with over the past two weeks, I feel really guilty about complaining about getting a little bit of rain in Texas.  (And it’s not really a complaint because, to be honest, I love stormy weather!)

That said, it rained all day Friday and it’s supposed to continue to rain through the weekend.  When I was driving home from work, the rain was so bad that I actually had to limit myself to 30 mph.  We’re under flash flood warning right now.  What better way to pass the time when you’re trapped inside by a storm than be watching a Lifetime movie?

What Was It About?

Cathy Rhodes (Molly Hagan) is a successful and acclaimed author of children’s books.  She’s written hundreds of stories about Mr. Poppins, a rabbit who can’t find his way home.  It’s made her a beloved figure in her small town but there are some who find Cathy and her husband (Bates Wilder) to be a little bit strange.  They whisper about how, 20 years earlier, Cathy’s 7 year-old daughter, Michelle, vanished.

Meanwhile, two new arrivals have come to town.  Jonathan (Richard Brancatisano) is an aspiring science fiction writer.  And his wife (Sofia Mattson) is going to help run the education center that Cathy has helped to fund.  It turns out that Jonathan’s wife is 27 years old and has no memory of her mother or her childhood.  And her name is …. Michelle!

Could Michelle be Cathy’s daughter?  That’s certainly what Cathy thinks and she’s willing to do anything to make sure that both her daughter and Mr. Poppins find their way home…

What Worked?

Molly Hagan may not be a household name but I can guarantee you that you would recognize her if you saw her.  She’s been in a countless number of films over the years and she is a truly great character actress.  She’s played so many different characters and she’s been totally convincing every time.  (I think her best-known recent film might be Sully, where she played one of the flight attendants who chanted, “Brace!  Brace!  Head down!  Stay down!”)  Anyway, Hagan does a great job as the Cathy Rhodes, making her both frightening and sympathetic.

Also giving a good performance was Bates Wilder, who played Cathy’s somewhat creepy husband.  Both he and Hagan keep you guessing.

Speaking of keeping you guessing, this film had an ambiguous ending that I absolutely loved.  I won’t spoil it but it was handled very well.  It’s the type of ending that I wish Lifetime would try more often.  Sometime, it’s not necessary to spell everything out.

What Did Not Work?

Could Michelle and Jonathan have been anymore unlikable?  Michelle acted like moving from the city to a small town was the equivalent of moving to a different country.  When Cathy mentioned she was making a casserole, Michelle’s smug response of, “Casserole!” was enough to make me decided that I wouldn’t ever want to know someone like Michelle in real life.

As for Jonathan … well, I lost all sympathy for him when he announced that, for him, being a writer was about business and not art.  “No one ever reads Proust anymore,” he said, at one point.  What a jerk!  Michelle, at least, kinda redeemed herself as the film progressed.  But Jonathan …. well, once a jerk, always a jerk.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Whenever Michelle got annoyed with Jonathan, I was like, “Oh my God!  I feel the exact same way!”

Lessons Learned

Don’t insult Proust.